Clear that Inbox (Your Inbox Should Not Be Your To-Do List)

Welcome to Learn Share Grow Episode 26.  This week we are talking about simplifying and cutting the crap.  Today specifically we are talking about cutting the crap within your inbox. A lot of people struggle (like I used to) with email inbox issues.  Incoming, mostly useless mail can often overwhelm us and we lose sight of what is actually important or miss an email that is actually important.

So, often to combat this we will have folders, sub-folders, sub-sub folders and beyond...they're simply not necessary and I'm going to show you why in today's video.

To make this process easier, I have developed a fool proof system that instead of using 100's if not thousands of folders....uses just 4.

Yes it is that simple.

And this will save you a ton of time.

Enjoy the video and get started on the work that matters today.


Listen to the Podcast

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Full Transcription Below.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Hayden Wilson here for Learn Share Grow live, Episode 26. This whole week we’re talking about simplifying your life and I’ve got some awesome stuff around how you can start to cut some of the bad stuff out and start to live a life that’s more simplistic, less crap in it and just clear all the junk that we don’t need in our life.


The first one that I’m talking about today is how to clear that in-box. I know a lot of people struggle with having a lot of emails, or sometimes if you’re like me, you get overwhelmed with the amount of junk mail that comes in and trying to decipher what’s actually important because you might receive 20 or 30 emails and only 1 or 2 or them may actually require action. The problem a lot of people face is they have folders, sub folders, sub sub folders, and it goes on and on and on, and if you’re anything like me, you end up with 20 or 30 different folders for every situation. I used to have hundreds of folders for clients, then individual actions for those clients, then inside of that, what they needed to give me, what I needed to give them – you end up getting so overwhelmed with what’s actually necessary that you actually forget what you need to get done and what you have to follow up. So I’m going to give you a system today that’s really simple to use. It only contains four different folders that you actually need in your in-box. It’s going to cut out all this shit and get you up and running ready to go, in your in-box so you can actually get done what you need to get done.


Before we even look at the system I’m going to present to you today we need to work out three different things. The first thing is I want you to cut out the crap. Get rid of the newsletters that you subscribe to that are no longer serving you. If friends are emailing you, you’re part of that loop, where the jokes get sent around to, or they’re keeping you in the loop with stuff that you don’t really need, just politely let them know you no longer want to participate – you don’t really need those emails clogging up your in-box.


So, I want you to clear out and stop that incoming stuff that you don’t really need. So as much as you can, unsubscribe to all those additional services because to be honest, they’re not really serving you. The second thing that you need to do is set up the folders that I’m about to show you. From there, the third thing we’re going to do is start to action all the items – I’ve drawn a little in-box here that normal people have – we’re going to sort of these items that are currently in the in-box, and put them into the four folders that I’m going to show you.


If we move on, before we can do any deletions or whatever, we need to create the four folders. The first folder I want you to create is ‘Action’. This is going to act as your To-Do list. Rather than sitting in your in-box and being overwhelmed and having thousands or hundreds or whatever emails in that in-box, we’re going to sort them into what needs Action and what we need to follow up as professionals. I’ll go into in a little bit more detail once we have them all written up here.


The second one I want you to create is ‘Archive’. In Archive, what we’ll have is anything that we don’t necessarily need to have in our minds right now, or in our in-box, they don’t require action, but we may need them in the future. Usually that’s where we have our folders, sub folders, sub sub folders and it causes confusion. By having that system we can’t actually find what we need. There’s a search button for a reason – I want you to start getting familiar with the search button rather than having thousands of folders – so we’re going to set up our Archive.


The next folder we’re going to set up is ‘Waiting’ which is where anything that you are waiting on someone else to get delivered and projects that are held up by other people – that’s where we’re going to have all the emails that are in that category.


The last one which is my favourite - it starts with T – ‘Trash’. We have so many emails that are coming in, and so many that are not even important, that we think maybe we need them for a later date or whatever, but the honest truth is, how often do you actually look at them? Just throw them in the Trash. If you don’t need them, if they’re not serving you to create results and to get to your higher purpose, then just delete them, you don’t need them – then delete the Trash. If you really need the information, you have the resources and you know how to actually follow up and get there. So put everything you don’t need in the Trash.


So these are the four main folders that I want you to have. Now we’re going to start the sorting process. You need to scan everything in your in-box, and there’s a simple rule here that I’ve spoken about it on my social media before – if it’s going to take 2 minutes or less to deal with, just bang it out, get it out of the way. If it’s going to take longer, that’s when we move it from our in-box and into our Action folder. You’ll find a bunch in between all these emails that need to go into the Action folder that we can’t take action on right now, they may require a much bigger response or take some thinking power that we can’t get done in 2 minutes, and we need to take it on in a different time. So take all of that stuff that actually needs to be actioned and put it into the Action folder.


The next one is the Archive. So if you’ve got messages from your accountant or maybe it’s business related, personal related but you want to keep it, you might need it at a later date, some password type of stuff, then put it into your Archive folder.


The next one is the Waiting folder. We’ve all got messages in our in-box that are from people who we are waiting for follow up on and it might have been a couple of days. What I do with this Waiting folder is, when it has been a day or two, every morning I just scan it and decide if I need a friendly follow up, or maybe they need a stern follow up to actually deliver what they said they were going to deliver, but rather than having it sitting in my in-box or my Action folder where it will overwhelm me, I put it in into my Waiting folder and then for 5 minutes a day, instead of waiting around and spending time getting stressed on what people need to deliver you, is when you have your Waiting folder, just spend 5 minutes follow it up and just call ‘hey just wondering when I can expect that, you said it was going to be here last Thursday, it’s now Monday, so can we follow up on that’.


The fourth one – I want you to go through and relentlessly Trash anything that you don’t need. You don’t need to keep newsletters from yonks ago, or emails that have information that are just no longer serving you. Use that Trash and really be relentless and ruthless with those emails because we just don’t need how many we normally think we need.


This is a sure-fire system, the Action, Archive, Waiting and Trash. If you have any issues or you’re still having trouble with your in-box – getting overwhelmed with how many emails are coming in, just use this system. It takes a little bit of getting used to, and also for those who already have hundreds of sub folders, you’re going to have to go through them and move them into the archives and get good at using that search button because it’s very useful when we know how to search for things. You can sort - I’m not sure what type of computer you have, but generally Microsoft Office and Outlook and Mac Mail and Gmail have very powerful search functions but also you can search by ‘date’, ‘who sent it’, if you sent it you can look at your ‘sent items’ and we can start to find information that way rather than having these hundreds of sub folders.


I hope this helps. If you have any questions, feel free to chuck them in the comments below or jump over to where you can see more of these videos and also get in touch with me. So thanks for watching and I’ll catch you next time. Ciao.